columbus family dental care
David A. Dixon, DDS and Associates
THE USE & CARE OF COMPLETE DENTURES
In order for you to receive the maximum possible service and satisfaction from your new dentures, it is important to
know certain things – whether you have previously worn dentures or not. The purpose of this instruction is to assist you
in the transition from your own natural teeth or a previous denture, to your new dentures.
At the onset, you should understand that no denture, whether it be complete or partial, will ever function as efﬁciently as
the original natural teeth. Experienced denture wearers with well-ﬁtting dentures have only 20 percent of the chewing
efﬁciency they had with their natural teeth. Learning to wear and use artiﬁcial dentures is a time-consuming process
which demands patience and determination and the length of time required will vary from person to person. Your men-
tal attitude is of utmost importance; do not expect too much from your dentures, especially at ﬁrst, and do not become
discouraged either, as thousands of people are getting along ﬁne with dentures and so can you.
For the ﬁrst few days, you should expect only to be able to keep them in your mouth and not much more. The feeling of
bulk or unusual fullness is common, especially if this is your ﬁrst experience with dentures. This will subside over time.
Also you will notice an abundance of saliva. After a few days your salivary glands will adjust themselves and resume
their normal function.
The oral tissues supporting your dentures were never intended to be used in this manner. Some ridges (the horseshoe-
shaped areas of the mouth that the dentures rest on) have thick and resilient tissue covering the underlying bone and
this enables the individual to wear their denture comfortably and to chew with minimum discomfort. Other ridges have
thin tissues covering the bone and therefore don’t provide a good cushion between the bone and the denture. These
ridges are easily irritated, constantly painful, and it is almost impossible for these individuals to comfortably wear and
utilize dentures in the usual way. Over time, however, the tissues of the mouth gradually accept the dentures.
Dentures are less self-cleaning than natural teeth, so they should be removed and brushed after each meal as tartar and
stain will buildup fast. You should have two brushes, a hard-bristle denture brush for brushing the denture and a regular
soft toothbrush for brushing the gums, roof of the mouth, and tongue. Any toothpaste will work ﬁne, and you should
regularly use a mouthwash to reduce germs and keep your mouth fresh. It is best to leave them out of the mouth for an
8 hour period everyday to permit the mouth tissues to “breathe” and recover from the wear and tear of the pressures ex-
erted on them. Yeast infections are common with those who wear them 24 hours a day. After they have been scrubbed,
soak them in water. You may use an efferdent tablet or some mouthwash in the water. Also, be careful not to drop the
dentures when cleaning them as the teeth can chip or break easily.
Adjustments of the dentures are almost always necessary before they become comfortable. Modern denture materials
are very stable and reliable and do not change over time. However, the tissues of the mouth (the ridges) do change and
some individuals exhibit this change more than others. Most changes occur during the ﬁrst few months after the teeth
are removed – the ridges shrink. It may, therefore, be necessary to have dentures relined (reﬁtted) after some period
of time (usually one year) and sometimes to have the bite periodically adjusted. Some mouths change so rapidly that
replacement dentures may be needed after a relatively short time. There is such a wide individual difference in this re-
spect that there are no hard and fast rules, but you should be aware that the supporting tissues will change and some
adjustments will be necessary to keep the dentures comfortable and your mouth healthy.
1645 Holt Road • Columbus, OH 43228
Phone: 614-878-1397 • Fax: 614-878-1336
A General Dentistr y Practice
THE USE & CARE OF COMPLETE DENTURES
continued, page 2
Some people experience a gagging sensation when they ﬁrst wear dentures. This is largely a mental reaction and will
be overcome as the dentures are worn – it has nothing to do with how they are made. If you feel the urge to gag, close
your mouth, breathe through your nose, and relax. Another hurdle to overcome is speaking. Try reading aloud at home.
Once again, don’t get discouraged.
The biggest problem by far is relearning to eat. Previous eating habits must be broken and new ones quickly learned. It
is a good idea to avoid chewing much at ﬁrst, at least until the dentures begin to feel like part of your mouth and not like
a bulky foreign object. For the ﬁrst few weeks, eat only soft foods, especially if this is your ﬁrst experience with dentures.
You will learn by experimenting that biting in some ways upsets the dentures, while biting in other ways seats them in
place. You must learn to chew on both sides of your back teeth at the same time. Break or cut a normal bite of food into
two pieces and place one piece on each side before starting to chew them. After a time this becomes a habit and you
will not realize that you are chewing any differently than you did before. Hard foods combined with unskillful use of
your dentures will cause a lot of irritation no matter how good the dentures may be. Learn to eat in stages. First learn
to swallow and then learn to chew. Practice on foods that normally require little chewing, such as pasta or mashed po-
tatoes, to get the feel of chewing. Then try some light brittle foods such as crackers. With dentures, chewing will mostly
be done with your knife and fork. Remember to eat slowly, with smaller bites, and be patient. And above all, always wear
your new dentures at mealtime despite difﬁculties eating. Never go back to your old dentures or do without. This will
only prolong the adjustment period.
You will not be able to bite much on your front teeth without upsetting the dentures. The front teeth are really for ap-
pearance only and are placed out in front of the ridges; therefore, dentures tip when pressure is put on these teeth, and
this can result in ridge destruction. Some people eventually learn to bite into apples and corn-on-the-cob, but too much
biting with the front teeth is harmful on the ridges. Try to cut or break up your food ﬁrst. Also be careful with chewing
gum – some brands are stickier than others.
You must develop chewing and swallowing habits which tend to seat your dentures and discard those which tend to
dislodge them. Occasional “light’ use of adhesive powders is acceptable to improve the stickiness of the saliva under
the denture; but, the long term use of adhesives only creates a “false ﬁt” which will help to maintain habits that can be
destructive to the supporting ridges. When a denture no longer stays in place, it means that the ridge it ﬁts on has suf-
ﬁciently changed to allow excessive movement and a loose ﬁt. Since the denture has never changed, it is the denture
wearer rather than the denture that becomes loose. A poor ﬁtting denture exerts excessive pressure on the ridge in
some places and no pressure at all in other places. This uneven combination of pressures will cause the ridges to wear
away; and, over the years there may not be any ridges left for future dentures to ﬁt over. We recommend that you have
an oral examination every year or so to evaluate your dentures and the health of your mouth.
If your denture was inserted the same day your teeth were removed or soon afterward, rinse your mouth with warm salt
water (1/4 tsp. salt to 8 oz. water) as often as possible. This is soothing and helps with healing.
This process is not easy, so please be patient. It is a new skill that must be learned and it takes perseverance and deter-
mination. Good luck and if you have any questions or need any adjustments, don’t hesitate to call our ofﬁce.
Columbus Family Dental Care